Adrenaline is awesome. For our ancestors, it gave them the juice they needed to stay in trees and avoid predators. For us, its an excuse to go skydiving. We chase adrenaline now because there is very little chasing us. This is why we love a movie with a great chase sequence or thrash to heavy metal. Video games are great at tweaking our adrenal glands, though one recent title stands out among all others.
Doom: Eternal from id Software is the epitome of first-person shooting prowess. It’s a carnal, chaotic smorgasbord of brutality and velocity, pitting players against the forces of hell as they invade Earth. Its intensity belies its delicate balance and bold innovation, especially for a franchise that could trade on name recognition alone. Pick it up and your pulse quickens.
Released in March 2020, Doom: Eternal is the latest entry for a series that helps form the very foundation of video game shooters. While it didn’t put the “first” in first-person shooter, 1993’s Doom is widely recognized as a key inflection point for gaming’s most popular genre. Full of blood, guts, heavy metal and satanic imagery Doom set a tone that was hard to top. Over time, the Call of Duty loadout-forward style took over, which is part of what makes Doom: Eternal such a triumph.
Boot it up and you’ll see the same trappings from the series' heyday, albeit with a gorgeous modern update. It’s gory and gross in all the right ways, with meaty demonic enemies liquefying under the barrage of your bullets in a buttery smooth 60 FPS. A thrashing soundtrack provides the background as you rip and tear through the worst hell has to offer. On surface level alone, this is pure video game fun.
Beneath the blood-soaked hood, though, is an innovative combat system that’s an extension of the 2016 reboot. Doom: Eternal focuses the player on how they demolish enemies to get the ammo, health and armor to keep going. Perform a glory kîll, get some health. Bisect an enemy with a chainsaw, get some ammo. Incinerate them with a flame thrower, get some armor. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
It may sound dizzying on paper, but in practice this creates an immensely satisfying combat loop that prevents players from cheesing with one particular type of attack or strategy. You’re forced to go into the fray and mix it up, but are quickly and constantly rewarded for doing so. It turns the pace up to 11 and gets you into a heart-pounding gaming zone quickly then keeps you there.
All this is punctuated by clever level design that emphasizes the power parkour traversal system that sees you bounding from surface to surface. You simply cannot sit still in Doom: Eternal and the relentless momentum of combat, climbing and cool music are a welcome departure from more technical modern shooters. And with nary an FPS in sight in the AAA release forecast for 2023, now’s the perfect time to play.
Doom: Eternal is available on Xbox Game Pass. It’s also for sale on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC (RIP Stadia).